This is one of several posts that I have to reflect on and share my learning from the sessions I attended at the ASCD #Empower17 conference.

I am a huge fan of Hattie’s work shared in Visible Learning. If you are not familiar with this research, the key # to know is that when a strategy has an effect size of 0.4 or higher it has the impact of making 1 year’s growth for students.  Here is a helpful chart to know where the #s fall in Hatti’s research:

Well now, Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey have a book on Visible Learning for Literacy! I have not read this book yet, but had the fortune of getting to hear them speak at ASCD #empower17. My only disappointment was that there session was just an hour long (simply not enough to learn all I could from them!)

Here are some of the key takeaways for me in this session:
Take a moment to reflect on that statement. Is your classroom or school intentional about giving every student the best by design?

One of the greatest factor that has negative impact on a student’s learning is mobility (with an effect size of -0.34…that’s right negative). But this does not mean a our transient students are doomed to fail. There are things we can do. For example, if the student makes a new friend within two weeks, it begins to wipe out the effect. That is something that we have control over in our classrooms and can easily ensure that we have strategies to welcome students into our school. Another strategy is 2by10: designate one adult in your school to seek out that student two minutes a day for ten days to build a relationship. (Note: The student should not know that this is an assigned person.)

Retention: 6 decades worth of research shows that retention does not work (with an effect size of -0.13) There may be short term positive effects, but they are wiped out within two to three years. The first predictor for a school drop out is that they were retained. Ouch. If you have retained students, take a look at their progress for the continuing years after their retention. What do you notice?  I will share that in our school we use the Light’s Retention Scale, which looks at 21 different indicators and provides an overall rating to determine if a student would be a good candidate for retention or not. I find it to be very thorough and brings a lot of discussion among the team to ensure that we are making the best decision that we possibly can. We have rarely retained students, but now I want to go back and look at long term data to see how they are doing.

Having students reread is a good practice (with an effect size of 0.67). Students are more likely to know the content better. Rereading works. So how do we counter the student groan that comes in response to having students reread? We have to make sure that we do not have literacy practices early on in school that kill the joy of rereading. Every parent knows how much kids like to hear the same book over and over at bedtime, or that little ones like to read the same book over and over. So what happens to that joy? Parents send us kids that love to reread books and a few years into school they don’t like to anymore.  That’s on us…what practices could be causing this? It’s as simple as telling a student “you already read that one.” Teachers do this to expand kids genres, however, we must be mindful about making sure that we don’t squash the joy in rereading.

Rigor, an educational buzzword, has become a 4 letter word to some. But the truth is that many educators confuse rigor with extra work. Rigor is really a delicate balance between difficulty and complexity. Fisher & Frey’s chart help distinguish between the two:

One way to determine if your assessment questions/tasks are complex, just ask Siri or Alexa the question. If it can be answered by artificial intelligence, then your task for your students is not complex. Do you really want your students spending their time on tasks they can just google anyways?

Fisher & Frey also addressed complexity in the quadrant chart below:

As you look at this chart, think about tasks that you would likely think of as complex…like, say a research project. Is it really complex? It is likely that it just requires a great deal of stamina, but may not be all that complex. It is also important to realize that working in fluency is not a bad thing at all, because you can migrate skills to automatic by practicing it over and over (ex: making inferences, determining main idea, etc.) It was also emphasized that it is ok to have kids struggle on a regular basis as you move them into high difficulty/high complexity work. Just not all the time.

5 Comments

Jacq · March 31, 2017 at 1:51 am

Loved your summary and insight on #empower17 and effect size things we can do. Thanks

    principalj · April 1, 2017 at 3:33 am

    Thanks for reading!

Tamara Clark · April 17, 2017 at 12:16 pm

Great summary! Thanks for taking the time to post! Visible Learning for Literacy will be my next read

Christina S. · July 23, 2017 at 2:10 am

Thank you for sharing your insights!

Learning Empowered at ASCD – Jessica Johnson @PrincipalJ · April 1, 2017 at 2:33 am

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